A leading plastic injection moulding and toolmaking specialist has appointed a new senior management team to help it target diversification and international opportunities.

Matt Harwood has become Managing Director of Barkley Plastics, taking over from his father Mark who has become Chairman of the Birmingham-based business.

The former logistics and business development manager will be joined at the helm by Operations Director Steve Smith and the duo are already setting their sights on maximising an £120,000 investment in automation and increasing its involvement in medical, construction and white goods.

This will reinforce the firm’s traditional expertise in automotive, where it continues to produce tools and injection moulded parts for customers including Aston Martin, BMW Mini, JLR, Nissan and Toyota.

“2022 is a massive year for the business as we look to bounce back from the pandemic and the supply chain issues affecting the automotive sector,” explained Matt.

“My Dad has been with the business since the late 70s and MD for the past 14 years, so we all felt the time was right for him to move upstairs and let a new management team build on the excellent platform he has built.”

He continued: “There’s a lot of challenges to contend with, but also a lot of opportunities as we look to take our toolmaking capabilities and injection moulding expertise into new markets, not to mention building on the success of our own interlocking floor product ‘PlasFloor’ by bringing a new home and garden range to market.

“Investment is a big thing for us at the moment. We must explore ways we can be more productive and efficient to help us offset rising energy prices and ensure we deliver competitive products to our global customer base.”

Barkley Plastics, which is a founding member of the Manufacturing Assembly Network, has one of the largest toolmaking facilities in the UK, producing high precision tools capable of delivering 50 million mouldings for distribution domestically and throughout Europe and the rest of the world.

Employing 100 people at its Highgate factory, it can support its expanding client base with initial design and product development, right through to manufacture and assembly, with over 40 modern moulding presses – ranging from 5 to 650 tonne – able to produce the most intricate of components.

The latest investment, which has been supported by WMG and the Made Smarter Programme, has seen the firm purchase six-axis collaborative robots that can work alongside an operator.

This will help improve efficiency and allows the company to utilise staff elsewhere on the production line.

Steve Smith, Operations Director, went on to add: “The focus is undoubtedly on strengthening our automotive partnerships, whilst at the same time using our two-shot moulding, injection moulding and toolmaking expertise to win complementary work in new markets.

“We’ve already had some significant success with this approach, with fire safety products exported to Eastern Europe and a new tooling project to help develop EV/Battery technology for agricultural and off-road vehicles. There’s even a project we’re doing to supply products for underwater boat lighting.”

He concluded: “I think that highlights our engineering knowledge and the vast range of manufacturing capability we can offer. That’s something we’ve got to leverage going forward.”

Barkley Plastics is a member of the Manufacturing Assembly Network (MAN), a group of seven sub-contract manufacturers and a specialist engineering design agency.

Employing more than 1700 people across 12 different factories, MAN can offer every engineering discipline imaginable, including aluminium casting, automation and control systems, forging, plastic injection moulding, precision machining, high-volume pressing, tube manipulation and welded assemblies.

In addition to Barkley Plastics, its membership includes Alucast, Brandauer, Grove Design, James Lister & Sons, Kimbermills International, PP Control & Automation and Muller Holdings.